What next for Sunderland and Jack Rodwell after contract talks reach impasse?

Where do Jack Rodwell and Sunderland go from here?

Thursday, 18th January 2018, 4:54 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th January 2018, 8:05 pm
Sunderland's Jack Rodwell.

Nowhere fast, it would seem.

Rodwell’s interview with the Daily Mail made clear that he would not be taking up the club’s offer to walk away from his contract 18 months early.

That in itself is understandable and certainly not unexpected. Plenty of players agree to terminate their deal early for a reduced pay-off, but it would be unprecedented for one to walk away entirely.

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It is not Rodwell’s fault that the club agreed to such a lavish contract and like it or not, Sunderland have to suffer the consequences of their utterly wretched approach to recruitment towards the end of their Premier League stint.

It is lost on no one that Rodwell penned that five-year deal the same summer that Sunderland turned their nose up at a very reasonable deal for Marcos Alonso and instead signed Patrick van Aanholt.

The question, then, is what happens next.

Rodwell has declared himself fitter than ever and available to play against Hull City this weekend, defending his injury record during his time on Wearside.

In reality, he is unlikely to get anywhere near the matchday squad.

He is not training with the first team and when Chris Coleman first arrived, Rodwell was unavailable for selection with a hamstring injury.

Rodwell has not played any football of any note since a 1-1 Checkatrade Trophy draw with Grimsby in November.

If he did play again, would he play in midfield?

That is where Sunderland’s need is most pressing and yet he reiterated in his interview that his favoured position is in the heart of defence.

Simon Grayson’s comments in October certainly suggested his days in the engine room are over.

He said: “He [Rodwell] told me that, before going into the first team, he had played centre-half for Everton and also through the age groups with England, and he felt that might be his best position because psychologically, and maybe physically as well, his body perhaps can’t take the demands of playing in midfield any more.

“He’s still young, but sometimes these factors happen. So, after having a look at it over the last few weeks, we played him there at Doncaster and then again the other night.

“It gives us another option there, and time will tell whether he might play there for the first team.”

Above all else, playing a player who has now publicly made clear his desire to move on would go against Coleman’s entire ethos and that is one that fans have almost universally backed.

So it can safely be surmised that Rodwell is not in the first team picture and will not be anytime soon.

So the only way the impasse ends is if another club comes in with an offer in the next 13 days.

How realistic is that? Not very. There have been suggestions of interest in a loan from Fulham and other Championship clubs, but certainly nothing concrete and even if it did materialise, there is little to no chance they could cover Rodwell’s wages in full.

So the onus would then be on the 26-year-old to back up his words and try and make the deal happen.

If the crucial factor is landing another club rather than protecting his current contract in full, would he take a significant cut or forgo part of his wage packet to move on?

That is less unprecedented, with Emyr Huws doing something very similar to seal a loan move to Ipswich Town last year.

Rodwell has become a symbol of Sunderland’s malaise and even more so when, unfairly, details of his contract were leaked last year.

His Black Cats career is now beyond salvation and Sunderland have only themselves to blame that there is no easy way out.

Rodwell’s words will be judged by what happens in the coming weeks, however.

Will he win Chris Coleman over on the training pitch or do whatever it takes to find a new club?

Sunderland’s support is sceptical.